Date Posted: 2013-12-25
Tolkien Fan Level: 5
Film Format Seen? 3D 48 fps
Will view again in a different format? Yes
First off, kudos to the production company, everyone involved. The movie was exciting, engaging and beautifully rendered. I continue to be amazed at the amount of creativity and imagination on display.
Second, I want to say thank you to the writing team for sheer amount of actual Tolkien they have layered into all of these scripts. While this movie strayed from the printed text the greatest of all 5 Middle Earth films yet seen, there are tons of moments, props, names and places to enjoy and appreciate. Third, I found this movie-going experience very odd. I was riveted by what I was seeing on the one hand and distracted by tracing all of the changes from the text and potential inconsistencies. So, as the credits started to roll, I told myself (and my viewing companions), "I'm going to have to think about this one." And I did need to. And I did for the next several days; before even I came to this site and started reading reviews. I needed to know what my real thoughts about the movie were without having the opinions of others, either praising or critical or both, to become my perspective or justification for any perceived shortcomings or "gaps" that I might thought existed solely due to not being able to take it all in in one sitting. My husband and my friend went out to eat afterward and you'd have thought someone gave us an intravenous shot of caffeine, because we were just babbling, talking about what we saw and discussing parts that we missed from the written version and whether it made sense or not that some major plot items changed (such as Bilbo not wearing the Ring during most of his conversation with Smaug and the dwarves actually entering the Mountain and attacking Smaug). In the end, it became clear to me that the movie succeeds in doing what it is trying to do, and in my opinion, is the highest priority consideration in determining whether a movie is good, bad or otherwise. Here, the director and writers had a clear vision of what needed to be included in this film, how they wanted to shape their version of Middle Earth, and the cultural distinctions and politics at play. I'm not sure still that I agree with all the changes, and I have to reserve some of my final opinion until I see the Extended Edition late next year (because I know that their has to be more Beorn coming... please let there be). So, things I missed: I missed the Enchanted River and the deer and having to carry a sleeping Bombur. I missed the hunger and desperation of the dwarves and Bilbo because of the extended length of their journey through the forest. I missed the Elven feasts (I hoped that is how we would be re-introduced to Legolas) with the magic lights that went up in a flash as soon as any non-Elven person stepped into the light and how that was the catalyst for the capture of the dwarves. And I wanted more time for Bilbo to explore the Thranduil's realm, before he is able to rescue everyone. Again, I think some of this will be remedied in the EE, not that I expect an Enchanted River scene, I just expect to see more of that part of the journey. There was so much wonderful there to see, but the journey through the forest itself seemed a little choppy. I did not have a problem with Tauriel. Female characters are very welcome, and I'd much prefer to see a female character that is controlling her own life rather than one that has to wait in the shadows and take on the stereotypical female role. That's why we all like Eowyn so much. I imagine we might have found Arwen a little dull had she not been introduced to us as a talented equestrian facing down all nine Nazgul at once. I must admit that I found the elf-dwarf love a little disconcerting, but when Kili is a part of ANYTHING I'm okay with it. He is one fine dwarf! I'd happily watch him eat granola all day. I need to know what that face melting thing with Thranduil was. And I was hoping to see Gandalf find Thrain captive in Dol Guldur. Perhaps he will in movie 3. I loved the barrel scene. It did not occur to me when I saw the production pictures of dwarves not sealed in barrels that this would be the facilitator for a dynamic, sensory-overloading battle sequence. Great idea! AND covering the dwarves with fish was a perfect nod to the missing lids! This movie seemed in some ways less like "history" and more immediate. I think this was because of the attack on Bard's family. That was unexpected and really cranked up what is at stake for these characters. Death suddenly seemed much more consequential than it does when we see our heroes dismember, behead and skewer orc after orc after orc after orc... I saw this in HD 64 FPS and I still don't have any problem with that technology. For an adventure movie like this, it works really well for me. I like to feel like the axes, swords and arrows are just inches away from me. Makes the battles much more immersive. Kudos again! I can't wait till next December!
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